South Central League Premier 2 Division 30/10/21
Banbury HC Ladies 1s - 1, Milton Keynes 1s - 2
It was school half term week and as a result, all teams across the club had limited availability to
choose from. It initially seemed that the Ladies 1s had a full complement for their match, but due to some last-minute unforeseen circumstances, they embarked on playing the game with only 10.
Banbury pressed from the off with some lovely interaction between Libby, Charlotte, and Zoe, and it wasn’t really noticeable that Banbury was a player down, and soon into the game Banbury had won themselves a Short Corner – but unfortunately, the MK defence blocked Kate’s rocket and it remained a stalemate.
After 10 minutes or so, MK began to get more of a grip on things and started to play like a team with a player advantage (making Banbury run and chase more). Despite this, both teams had forays into the others’ final quarter, with Flora, Libby and Nat combining particularly well giving MK something to think about. However, it soon looked like the high tempo was taking its toll on the Banbury ladies and MK had a concentrated period of pressure, which after 23 mins, led to a Short of their own. It was played out to the middle of the D, then passed to the right, and drilled home. That was One – Nil to MK!
This didn’t dampen the Banbury enthusiasm, and within 3 minutes of going a goal down and after some nice play down the right, Banbury won a Short - unfortunately, this was blasted too high. This signaled the start of a good period of pressure from Banbury, where they kept MK safely pinned back in their own half, but in the last minute of the half, MK broke down the pitch and won a Short; but Banbury defended this well went in at half time just a goal down. All to play for….!
Banbury started the 2nd half well, and it was proper end-to-end stuff for 5 minutes, but as a result of this effort, the Banbury legs quickly began to tire. MK were passing the ball about, making it difficult for our ladies to get hold of it and formulate an attack, and after 8 minutes of the second half, a break from deep, saw MK move upfield and score a fairly straightforward 2nd goal. Two – Nil to MK!
This started a period with both teams playing most of their hockey in the midfield which saw our
ladies run tirelessly after the ball; nothing was a lost cause. Nat managed to retrieve many a ball
which lesser mortals would have given up on, and as a result, for a while, Banbury kept the ball and prevented MK from dictating the play that they had been doing previously. However, this was tiring and MK continued to press hard, winning a Short corner, but this was defended well and came to nothing.
The final 15 mins of the game saw MK start to tire (they only had one Sub after all !) and Banbury seemed to be buoyed by this. Any MK break was now being dealt with easily by the Banbury athletes, and in fact, the majority of the play was now being played in the MK half. With only 8 minutes to go, Banbury decided that they had nothing to lose, and having soaked up and dealt with the MK threat so well, they started a high press and give MK no space and nowhere to go. After 2 minutes of intense pressure, they were rewarded with a Short (which Hobs advised me was a PCA Dogleg….), but MK defended it well and the shot was blocked. However, Banbury was definitely on top now. A minute later, and with only 5 mins to go, Libby made another of her trademark runs down the right, she cut in, and after a bit of a goalmouth scramble, the ball was forced into the net (off a defenders foot, but was goal bound by Libby herself). Two – One to MK. Game on!
Banbury pushed all their players high into the MK half and D, and despite a number of close calls, and some near misses (Nat was within an inch of forcing in an equaliser), the ball just would not find the back of the MK net. The last few minutes were all Banbury – despite playing the whole game with only 10 players. Final whistle; Two – one to MK!
Under the circumstances, it was a shame that the team didn’t take something away from the game, as they richly deserved to, but they certainly left the pitch with their heads held high. This had been a tremendous performance and everyone is very much looking to the return game at NOA where, with a full complement of players, a very different result is expected.
MOM – all 10 players were candidates, but Nat deservedly got the most nominations (6) and wins
Ladies 1s Manager 30/10/21